For over 40 years, author Stephen King has given audiences countless stories to keep them up at night, cementing his legacy as one of the most profound voices in horror history. To celebrate King, the British Film Insititute will be screening a variety of the author's most memorable films, in addition to some of his hand-picked favorites.
King's first published novel, Carrie, was adapted into a major motion picture only a few years later, becoming a seminal coming-of-age tale that warned audiences not to pick on the girl with telekinetic powers. The novel would be the first of many successful horror adaptations, including The Shining, Pet Sematary, The Mist, and 1408.
The author's work hasn't only graced the silver screen, as some of his longer stories have required more time to get their points across, with It, The Stand, and The Tommyknockers earning themselves mini-series.
Not to be relegated or dismissed as merely a horror writer, King also wrote Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption, which would become defining movies of the '80s and '90s, respectively.
This year alone could be one of the author's biggest, with a series based on The Mist currently airing on Spike, a series based on Mr. Mercedes coming to the Audience Network later this month, The Dark Tower hitting theaters in August, and a new adaptation of It being released in September.
Scroll down to see what films King personally selected to screen at the celebration in his honor!
Night of the Demon (1957)
Made at a time in which devil worship and Satanic rituals felt all the more possible, Night of the Demon explores themes of witchcraft in ways that aren't often demonstrated in modern films.
When a professor threatens to expose a rival for their pact with the devil, he is summarily run off the road and killed by the visage of a massive demon. With another colleague attempting to uncover the professor's nefarious secret, it's a race to see if the truth can be exposed before they become another victim of witchcraft.
King points out, “Although it’s old school, I love Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon, a pretty wonderful adaptation of M. R. James’ story, 'Casting the Runes.' Tourneur was a disciple of Val Lewton, which means the horror here is pretty understated, until the very end.”
Village of the Damned (1960)
All the residents of a small English town mysteriously become unconscious, resulting in the military investigating the phenomenon, leading them to also go unconscious. When everyone wakes up, as mysteriously as the collapsed, there remains to be an explanation for the bizarre events.
Two months later, all fertile women from the incident realize they are pregnant, eventually giving birth to children of advanced intelligence. As the children age, they demonstrate physical similarities and strange behaviors that hint at a terrible secret behind their origins.
The author revealed, “On the subject of British horror (wrapped in an sci-fi bow), you can’t do much better than Village of the Damned, directed by Wolf Rilla and – like Night of the Demon – shot in beautiful black and white. It’s an adaptation of 'The Midwich Cuckoos,' by John Wyndham, and George Sanders does a stellar job as the schoolmaster tasked with teaching some very strange pupils."
The Changeling (1980)
In The Changeling, a man hopes to cope with the sudden loss of his wife and daughter by moving from New York to Seattle to start a new life. Shortly after moving into his new home, the man begins to experience
Of the film, King explains, "For supernatural horror, I like Peter Medak’s film The Changeling, starring George C. Scott in perhaps his last great screen role. There are no monsters bursting from chests; just a child’s ball bouncing down a flight of stairs was enough to scare the daylights out of me.”
The Hitcher (1986)
In one of Rutger Hauer's most iconic roles, he plays a ruthless madman who appears to want nothing more than to wreak havoc on anyone he comes across. A great way to randomly inject himself into a stranger's life is by hitchhiking, leading C. Thomas Howell's character to become his next target, after merely wanting to help out a stranger.
"The Hitcher is a terrifying road movie stripped back to basics," King reveals. "What sets this apart, other than some spectacular stunts, is the amazing performance of Rutger Hauer as the mysterious and homicidal John Ryder. 'Where did you come from?' asks the terrified kid Ryder is chasing. 'Disneyland,' Ryder whispers back.”
The Stepfather (1987)
Long before playing the hard-as-nails and inspiring Locke on Lost, Terry O'Quinn embodies the worst fears of anyone accepting a new member into a family.
From the opening moments of the film, you know that O'Quinn's character is disturbed, stepping over the butchered remains of a family. A year later, he appears as a charming real estate agent in a new city, setting his sights on courting a widow with a teenaged daughter. With the audience fully aware of the character's terrifying secret, the only question is whether or not the family will find out in time to stay alive.
King confessed, "While we’re talking about terrifying men who come from nowhere, there’s The Stepfather, with Terry O’Quinn as the murderous (but charming) psycho looking for a family to love him. There’s that classic moment when he goes blank and says, 'Saaay, who am I this time?' before bludgeoning his wife with a telephone.”